Dispute over Downtime DVD ReleaseBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 21 October 2015 - Reported by Dan Collins and Marcus
Reeltime Pictures have announced the DVD release of the spin-off adventure Downtime, a direct to video production originally released in 1995 and featuring the character of Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, as played by the late Nicholas Courtney.

The story was devised as a sequel to the second Doctor serials involving the Great Intelligence, The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear, and included the return of Victoria Waterfield and Professor Edward Travers, as played by Deborah Watling and her father Jack Watling; it also saw the return of investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith, reprised by Elisabeth Sladen. The video was also notable in introducing the character of the Brigadier's daughther, Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, now a firm favourite in the ongoing series of Doctor Who on television.

The character of the Brigadier was created in 1968 for the story The Web of Fear, written jointly by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, who authorised the original video production. However plans for Reeltime to release the drama on DVD have been contested by the Executor of the Haisman Literary Estate, Haisman's granddaughter Hannah Haisman-Hatt. She posted on Facebook:
It has been brought to my attention that Reeltime Pictures and One Media are releasing Downtime, the Doctor Who spin-off film made in 1995, on DVD. This is being done so without my consent or permission. As Executor of the Haisman Literary Estate, and thus copyright holder of Lethbridge-Stewart, Professor Travers, the Great Intelligence and the Yeti I should have been approached over this.

Attempts to negotiate have fallen on deaf ears, and my rightful claim has been refuted the producers. I have now been forced to take legal action to protect the copyright of my grandfather, Mervyn Haisman, after their refusal to renegotiate an agreement made twenty years ago for a film made for straight-to-video release only.
Reeltime Pictures have disputed her claim, with a spokesman informing Doctor Who News:
Reeltime Pictures has been approached by Hannah Hatt regarding the agreement we signed with her grandfather, Mervyn, in 1995. As we explained to her, the agreement is still in force and covers any exploitation that we might choose to undertake. Certainly no other party involved in the project has raised an issue with their agreements and we have assured her that no renegotiation is necessary.

There is little else we can do at this time other than to wait upon any legal representation she might make.

This is not the first time a dispute has arisen over characters and objects created for Doctor Who. In 2013 the son of Anthony Coburn, the writer of the very first story, claimed ownership of the TARDIS.

Downtime (Credit: Reeltime Pictures)Downtime
Starring Nicholas Courtney, Elisabeth Sladen, Deborah Watling and Jack Watling
Released by Reeltime Pictures, 16th November 2015 (pre-order)

We follow The Brigadier and Sarah Jane Smith of UNIT who investigate New World University; a sinister school run by old enemies Victoria Waterfield and Professor Travers. The technology obsessed University holds a gateway to Earth made by classic foe the Great Intelligence.

Fighting alone this time – without their famous time-travelling scientific advisor – The Brigadier and Sarah Jane are hard pressed to decide who is friend or foe as they search for a missing Locus, which binds the Intelligence’s power. The battle is broadened when the Brigadier’s own family is threatened and UNIT faces a powerful new breed of Yeti!

In addition to the film there is a second DVD containing extras which will include Behind the Lens (a behind the scenes look at the production with never before seen footage), and Post Production (a glimpse into the editing, sound and visual effects work).

FILTER: - Blu-ray/DVD